Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Free the Data

Dani Rodrik alerts me to a website ambitious enough to attempt to catalogue the CO2 emissions of every power station in the world. They're a far ways away yet, but the data looks pretty good for the developing world.

Of course neither St. John's nor Holyrood, where our local power station is technically located, made the cut. If any other person wants to go digging through the data, feel free.

This brings me to the main point of this entry. Dear Statistics Canada, please free the data.

Right now, even as a student at a university affliated with the CANSIM database, retrieving information from statscan is roughly on par with undergoing a root canal. Or something equally painful; I've never had a cavity. But I digress.

I tried poking through some budget records to see how much money our national statistics agency takes in from selling information. My bet is not a ton, and there's nothing that aggravates me more than having a question pop into my mind and running into a paywall on their site, detouring through CANSIM, getting frustrated at CANSIM, etc, etc. The end result is often giving up. I shudder to think of how many other students we have in our universities not seeking truth because we can't get the data in an easy manner.

So, Mr. Harper. I know it's early. But I'd love a Christmas present along these lines.

1 comment:

Stephen Gordon said...

This is a sore point for me as well.